Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Most Important Thing


I may be a new ‘Senior Lecturer’ with my own office, but I relearned an important lesson today – it all comes down to relationships.  My new desk has drawers that have a lock on them (normal for this part of the world).  Only my lock was stuck in locked position, rendering my desk drawers useless and me with no place to put my stuff.  I prevailed upon our facilities manager and out of thin air the maintenance guy appeared then and there and was happy to accompany me to my office.  Turns out his name is Naboth, as in Jezebel and Ahab.  And he’s not from these parts, but from around Lake Victoria north of Kisumu.  And while he tinkered with my lock and finally managed to open the offending drawer, we had one of those wonderful this-part-of-the-world conversations ranging from where are you from to how many children do you have and what are they all doing and then the difference between Ethiopia (where we used to live) and Kenya (Kenyans are always delighted to hear that Ethiopia is about 30 years behind Kenya in terms of development) and on to life in the US and why some acquaintances of his who went to the US for various reasons disappeared and never came back, and then on to how hard and expensive it is to find fish to eat up in the Highlands with all these Kikuyu people, etc., etc.  During the course of this friendly back and forth over 25 minutes, he managed to fix my drawer.  It might have taken  another handyman operating alone 10 minutes.  But life here isn’t about work, or efficiency; it’s about relationships.  The task was accomplished, my need was met, but most important of all, I now have a friend named Naboth.